One of the most powerful and widely quoted apostolic prayers is found at the end of the first chapter of Ephesians. An apostolic prayer is simply a prayer that an apostle prayed, or sometimes more generally, a prayer found in the text of the New Testament (whether an apostle wrote it or not). These prayers for the church at that time can be applied and prayed for churches now as well, joining powerfully with God’s will for his people.
Throughout Paul’s apostolic prayer for the church found in Ephesians 1:15-23, Paul brings up a series of elements in a very logical and coherent fashion. He first asks that God would give them revelation in the knowledge of Him, that the church would understand who God is and the great hope that He has offered all believers. In addition, Paul prays that believers will know the power God works in us, the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead and glorified Him in heaven. He explains that Christ is now seated in heaven as the head of the church that believes in Him.
Many of the things that Paul prays in this apostolic prayer for the church in Ephesus are still quite relevant for the church today. For example, Paul mentions in verse 15 that he has “heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you.” Churches today should also be comprised of people with faith in Jesus that is demonstrated in a way that would allow others to hear about it. The only reason that the church has survived in the midst of humanistic worldviews that saturate much of the Western world is that people are drawn to faith in Jesus as the ultimate source of fulfillment.
Following that, a new believer who has developed a faith in Jesus is then called to go deeper, knowing God in a fuller fashion. Paul prays that believers would have the “spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him” in verse 17. It is only through the working of God’s spirit that people are able to see and grow in knowledge of God. As our eyes are opened to God, or “enlightened,” as Paul writes in the following verse, we come to know “the hope of His calling” and the “riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints”. Persevering faith only comes from seeing God more clearly and realizing that He created people as His inheritance and prize, for His own glory.
The last section of this prayer turns things back to Jesus, reflecting in verses 19-20 on how the resurrection of Jesus and the seating of Him in heaven showcases the strength of God’s might. Verse 19 suggests that God has this same power in His interactions with us. The life, death, resurrection, and continued life of Jesus only serves to demonstrate that God cares deeply about the human race, and is willing to work powerfully in our lives to showcase His glory and love.